TORONTO -- Nazem Kadri wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs would have been preparing for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday instead of cleaning out their lockers if he had avoided a suspension against the Boston Bruins in the first round.
"I think we could have been," Kadri said. "I felt like I was starting to play my best hockey in that series and I was really planning on bringing it, being that difference and being that X-factor. To say we would have advanced if I would have played, it's tough to say. You never know, Boston is a great team and a lot of variables can happen throughout a game. It's hard to sit back and watch though when you know you could have made an impact."
Kadri was suspended for the duration of the series after he cross-checked Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk in the face in Game 2. Kadri was responding to DeBrusk's hit on Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau near the Toronto bench moments earlier.
Video: Kadri banned rest of First Round for cross-checking
"I wasn't intending to get him in the face," Kadri said. "That's completely not my character. Had that been the case there would have been some more substantial damage there. I was unsatisfied with the hit on Marleau, I thought it was a bit of a dangerous play and I wanted to give him one of those shots in the arm and let him know that wasn't OK with us. Unfortunately it caught him high and I've got to be accountable for that, I've got to have control of my stick so that's definitely a bit of a boneheaded play."
It's the second straight season Kadri has been suspended for a play against the Bruins in the first round. Last season he was suspended three games for boarding forward Tommy Wingels in Game 1.
Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas said he respects Kadri's willingness to stand up for his teammates but that he wants him to find the proper balance to avoid suspension.
"When we talked to him, his temperance is a major point," Dubas said. "He's an excellent player for us and he brings an element we don't have in abundance. Yes he likes to defend his teammates and plays very hard, but we need him to be available. I don't think if he continues with that sort of behavior the suspensions are going to decrease. He needs to find that balance between playing hard and defending his teammates and being available to the group. I don't think anybody feels worse about it than he does."
Video: TOR@BOS, Gm2: Kadri tips in Dermott's shot
Kadri's suspension forced coach Mike Babcock to shift William Nylander to center on the third line and elevate Connor Brown to right wing on that line, with Marleau at left wing. His loss impacted Toronto's perceived depth advantage. Kadri, who scored 3:19 prior to the hit on DeBrusk, said he recognizes the predicament his actions put the team in but that he hopes his teammates recognize the reason behind what he did.
"I think they can [trust me], they know what kind of person I am," Kadri said. "They know I'm not a selfish person and all these instances are for standing up for other people. I know I put us behind the eight ball and I know my teammates know I would do anything for this team. I'd much rather have someone on my team who cares a little too much than too little."
Kadri said watching Games 3-7 was one of the more difficult things he has had to go through.
"Of course I regret it (the hit), it was tough to watch and I've never been so anxious and stressed out watching these games here," Kadri said. "It's not my intention to hurt people, but I'm always going to be that guy to try to stand up for my teammates. Sometimes I just think a little too much with my heart as opposed to my head, and that's something I'm going to fix and make sure this isn't going to happen again."